Today is the day. Google has just announced general support of Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) in Gmail. We’ve been anxiously awaiting this day for almost a year when Google first announced their pilot program for BIMI.
A lot has changed in the email marketing world since we first learned of Google’s BIMI pilot in July 2020 (too much to cover in this blog post, so check out our monthly State of Email webinar series to stay up to date on the latest developments) but one thing hasn’t changed – our support and excitement of BIMI and the value it brings to everyone in the email ecosystem.
As one of the initial members of the AuthIndicators Working Group – a committee of companies helping to develop the BIMI standard – Validity has been deeply involved in Google’s BIMI pilot. With their general availability announcement, Google joins Yahoo and Fastmail in BIMI support, making BIMI available at roughly 2 billion inboxes. With 43% of the email service market share, Google’s announcement is a huge leap forward in the adoption of BIMI and presents a significant opportunity for senders to stand out in the inbox and attract the attention of their recipients.
Let’s take a step back to learn more about BIMI and what this announcement means for marketers.
What is BIMI?
BIMI is an email specification that enables the use of brand-controlled logos within supporting email clients. BIMI provides a secure, global framework in which inboxes display sender-designated logos for authenticated messages. BIMI rewards marketers who strongly authenticate their messages via DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) by placing an approved logo next to their official emails in their recipients’ inboxes. The below image is an example of how an organization’s logo could display.
Why should I implement BIMI?
BIMI provides many benefits for marketers. In today’s complex landscape, where inboxes are more congested and recipients are more selective in the messages they engage with, the benefits of BIMI can have a significant impact on your email performance. Here are a few key benefits for marketers:
- • Stand out from other senders in the inbox. With BIMI adoption just beginning to ramp up, it is a great way to stand out in today’s overcrowded inbox and differentiate yourself from other senders. Marketers who act quickly can be some of the first to use BIMI at Gmail, giving them a true competitive advantage.
- • Improve the user experience to drive more engagement. BIMI enriches the inbox for your recipients, and with DMARC, strengthens the trustworthiness of your email. This is critical because recipients are more likely to open and engage with emails coming from a brand they know and trust. According to the DMA Consumer Email Tracker 2021, recipients said “recognizing the brand” is the most important factor in determining whether they’ll open an email. BIMI is proven to improve performance metrics – results from Yahoo Mail’s BIMI pilot show an increase in engagement by an average of 10% when emails displayed brand logos next to email messages.
- • Leverage your investment in DMARC. In order to be eligible for BIMI, you must enforce a strict DMARC policy. Having a strict DMARC policy has huge advantages for the security of your brand’s emails. It helps protect your company’s email domain from being used for email spoofing, phishing scams, and other cybercrimes. BIMI emphasizes and rewards your investment in DMARC by increasing your brand impressions in the inbox.
How do I get started with BIMI?
Now that you’ve seen the value of BIMI, I’m sure you’re dying to get started. To implement BIMI, follow these steps:
- 1. Enforce a strict DMARC policy. As mentioned above, BIMI requires you have a DMARC policy of reject (or 100% quarantine). If you’re already operating with this level of DMARC enforcement, you’re well on your way to implementing BIMI (and we applaud you for your investment). If you don’t have a DMARC policy in place, it’s not too late. This is another great reason to strengthen your email authentication. Check out this article to get started with DMARC.
- 2. Publish your BIMI record. Once you have the proper DMARC policy in place, you’ll need to publish a BIMI record for your domain in the Domain Name System (DNS) which points to the logo indicator in a specific SVG Portable/Secure format to be used.
- 3. Obtain a Verified Mark Certificate (VMC). This is not mandatory for all providers; however, Google is requiring brands to obtain a VMC in order to display their logo at Gmail inboxes. So, to take advantage of BIMI benefits at Gmail, you’ll need to go through the vetting process with a Certified Authority (CA) which proves your right to use the image. It is required that your logo be a registered trademark, which will be validated as part of the vetting process. Today, Entrust and DigiCert support BIMI as CAs and the list is expected to expand in the future. Keep in mind that some mailbox providers support BIMI without a VMC, so if you choose to pass on this final step, there is still value in publishing a “self-asserted” BIMI record.
This might seem like a complicated and tedious process, especially for those who have yet to adopt DMARC. However, the benefits received are worth your investment.
As strong proponents of BIMI (have we mentioned that yet?), Validity is here to help. We have lots of resources to help you through the implementation process. We provide the tools you need to manage both DMARC and BIMI within our Everest platform. With Everest, you’re able to generate your BIMI record, host your BIMI SVG image, and preview your message at BIMI-enabled inboxes. You can also keep a close eye on email engagement within Everest to track clicks and conversions pre- and post-BIMI implementation to see the benefits of your investment in DMARC and BIMI.
We hope you’re as excited as we are about Google’s BIMI announcement. We can’t wait to see how this impacts the email marketing landscape going forward. While this is yet another development for email marketers to consider, this one is advantageous for everyone involved!
We’ve just scratched the surface of BIMI with this blog post. We encourage you to download our latest eBook, I’ve Gotta BIMI, for more detail into the topics above.